North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the country's armed forces are fully ready to deal with any outside threats as he addressed a conference of war veterans but unlike last year, made no mention of "nuclear deterrence," according to state media Wednesday.
The annual conference, held Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War, coincided with the surprise announcement that the North restored cross-border hotlines with South Korea that it had cut off more than a year ago.
During the address, Kim said the North is facing challenges from the prolonged coronavirus lockdown but did not talk about strengthening the country's nuclear arsenal or relations with South Korea and the United States.
In last year's speech, Kim said the country has "reliable and effective self-defence nuclear deterrence."
"We are faced with difficulties and hardship caused by the unprecedented global health crisis and prolonged lockdown no less challenging than how it was during the war," Kim said during this year's speech, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
Kim said it was the "honorable mission for descendants of the generation who won the victory in the war to further consolidate and bring to prosperity forever the country."
Top officials attending the conference included Choe Ryong-hae, president of the presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, and Jo Yong-won, secretary for Organizational Affairs of the party's Central Committee.
This marked the second time since 2015 that Kim delivered a speech at the conference of war veterans.
The North held the first conference of war veterans in 1993, when it marked the 40th anniversary of the end of the war. It also has taken place in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2018 and 2020 since leader Kim Jong-un took office in late 2011.
The Korean War ended in an armistice signed on July 27, 1953, which leaves South and North Korea technically in a state of war. The North called the war the Fatherland Liberation War and designated the armistice signing date as Victory Day. (Yonhap)